A much-needed lifestyle change has taken an adventurous couple from inner-city Brisbane to a completely new life.
- Truffles are becoming more popular among home cooks
- A reinvigorated hospitality industry is also driving demand
- Australia is the world’s fourth largest producer of black Périgord truffles
Ina Ansmann and Timothy Noonan are growing black Perigord truffles among 600 oak and hazelnut trees on a farm where they serve homemade gourmet meals to guests.
But they wondered how hard it would be after buying the Tasmanian farm three years ago.
“We didn’t know anything about truffles at the time other than we’d eaten them a few times and they taste very nice but we knew nothing about truffle farming,” she said.
It has been a steep learning curve but they are reaping the rewards of a good season with a little help from their three-year-old Tasmanian Smithfield dog Cody, who sniffs them out.
“We are seeing some bigger truffles this season which is nice,” Ms Ansmann said.
Demand for truffles rises
Ms Ansmann said cooking shows helped consumers to learn more about the many different uses of the aromatic ingredient.
“We are seeing a lot of local people coming throughout the season, buying small truffle for their omelette and pasta dishes,” she said.
With more than 400 truffle growers across the country, Australia is the fourth largest black Perigord truffle producer in the world.
Australian Truffle Industry Association president Noel Fitzpatrick said it was good to see demand on export markets return this year after the industry had been hit by the pandemic.
He said lockdowns, transport disruptions and hospitality closures left exporters stranded.
He said about 10 tonnes of Australian-grown truffle was exported in 2019, making up 90 per cent of the total truffle production.
He said this year had been much better for exporters than the past two years with the aviation industry returning “somewhere back to normal” but there were still logistical disruptions.
Ms Ansmann said she thoroughly enjoyed working with her beloved dog Cody to harvest the undercover crop.
“It’s quite amazing to watch, they [dogs] trace the scent from metres away, so it’s quite a special skill they have that we are quite dependent on,” she said.
She said smelling the earthy fungus could be quite a subjective experience.
“Generally, if I have one truffle and I pass it around to 10 different people they will give me 10 different answers as in what they can smell in there.”
“It ranges from chocolate to vanilla, to hazelnut, to blue cheese, or dirt or earthiness or mushroomy notes or completely different answers.”